If you live in the Boston area or have ever visited, you have almost certainly heard of Toscanini’s, which was started by Gus Rancatore, and it is likely you’ve paid them a visit at least once. Somewhat less well-known is Rancatore’s, or Ranc’s, which was opened in 1985 by Joe Rancatore, Gus’s brother. Ranc’s has two locations, a larger one in Lexington, where all of the ice cream is made, and a smaller one in Belmont Center, just outside Cambridge.
Whereas Toscanini’s might be packed with college students and young professionals, Ranc’s is without a doubt a destination for families, which makes sense given its location in the suburbs. Which is not at all a bad thing, if you have any soft spot for little kids, it’s actually sort of fun to sit and eat next to a three-year-old who is hard at work contemplating how to transfer the scoop of ice cream as big as her face from her cone to her mouth.
The quality of the ice cream alone is reason enough to trek out there. I say this because I had a mini revelation on my most recent visit to Ranc’s this past weekend. Dave and I split a sundae, and while it was positively delicious, it was the first time I ever wished that I had gotten plain ice cream instead. I love, quote on quote, bells and whistles with my ice cream, but Ranc’s stands out from the crowd with its unique flavors. You don’t go to Ranc’s for a tasteless mass of sugar and cream. You go for artfully executed flavors like sweet cream, bittersweet chocolate, and hazelnut chip. Our sundae was half Callebaut milk chocolate and half coffee ice cream, topped with Ranc’s own hot fudge, crumbled Hydrox, and freshly whipped cream.
The toppings are fantastic, especially the whipped cream, which they whip right before your eyes in a KitchenAid behind the counter. But ultimately, the toppings overpower the flavor of the ice cream. The Callebaut milk chocolate is divine, but I could barely taste it under the fudge and whipped cream. Ah well, lesson learned. It is quite a dilemma though. The fudge and whipped cream are fantastic, but ultimately, the flavors deserve to stand on their own. I already know what two flavors I am getting on my next visit: vienna finger and gingersnap molasses. I tasted both of them before we ordered the sundae and they were delicious. Hopefully I’ll be back with a full report on them in not too long.
36 Leonard Street